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  • 12 string

    Posted by the-old-coach on December 4, 2021 at 10:44 pm

    Well, out of the blue, I have a chance to buy a 12-string guitar.

    Guy who has it is just someone I see occasionally- bartender at a local brewery🙂. I think he’s someone who really “knows” guitars- and said he has “quite a few” of them- (with a smile). Said he used to be on tour with different bands, as their “equipment guy”– and bodyguard. (Funny story he told me how he would sometimes have to carry the band members over his shoulder from the bars to their hotel rooms– drunk on their asses or passed out- limp). He said I would recognize their names……

    Sorry about that side-trip….. Anyway– it’s a Yamaha. Specific model not known as I write this. It’s a beautiful-looking guitar. I played it badly for a few minutes, and loved the sound– sooooo rich and smooooooth! But- it was harder to play for sure.

    Here’s my question– is learning and playing a 12-string WAY harder than a 6-string? Is this going to hurt or help my 6-string learning in TAC?

    I wanna own it- but don’t want to mess-up what I’m trying to learn on 6-string here in TAC.

    Any help and advice will be GREATLY appreciated.

    Mark J

    • This discussion was modified 2 years, 4 months ago by  the-old-coach.
    the-old-coach replied 2 years, 3 months ago 8 Members · 25 Replies
  • 25 Replies
  • Cadgirl

    Member
    December 5, 2021 at 3:04 am

    @Mark, I also am thinking of buying a 12 string to add to my collection. You said that you were able to handle it, so you know if you can grip the strings or not. I am going to guess this is going to be an ‘extra’ guitar? What can it hurt to own it, even if it’s to play occasionally (providing the price is right)? Yes, more strings are a little harder to hold down than a 6 string. I was looking at one yesterday and the nut width was fine but the neck shape was too big for my hand to get comfortably around. Ask if you can have it for a few days to play before making a decision. Good Luck!

    • the-old-coach

      Member
      December 5, 2021 at 9:22 am

      Yes- it’d be an “extra” guitar. I have two now, an old cheap one- (that I love but mostly because I’ve had it for 45 years), and my newer Fender- (not a real expensive guitar, but it also has a real rich sound, and I like it).

      As far as cost- I think this 12-string is a screamin’ deal- I could without any doubt sell it for more than I’d have in it- if I changed my mind. I think borrowing it is out of the question.

      I’m thinking I could play it to the “same level” as the 6-string, after playing it regularly for some time.

      The deeper question for me is “why would I want one in the first place?”. Yes, the full, rich sound of the 12-strings just kind-of melts me. But I’m likely never going to play it for anyone else- it would really only be for my own personal sound-enjoyment.

      Wait- did I just answer my own question?🤨

      Thank you mightily for taking the time to respond- your advice means a great amount to me.

      Mark J

  • tailsawaggin

    Member
    December 6, 2021 at 10:39 pm

    It’s not harder, it’s just different, and it sounds like you’ll enjoy it and won’t lose anything on it, and you’ll regret not going for it, so do it. 😁

    • N-lightMike

      Member
      December 30, 2021 at 3:55 pm

      👍 I couldn’t agree more with @tailsawaggin , Mark ( @mkjohnsons ). Turn the question around, how would you feel if you DON’T get it.

  • the-old-coach

    Member
    December 27, 2021 at 5:25 pm

    Well—

    An update- (if anyone cares….🙃)

    I- (with my wife there)- stopped-in and talked with the gentleman who owned it a few days after my second post, over a cold beer. He said he had in fact changed his mind about selling it after all. He had whittled his collection over the years “down to like 13 guitars already” and liked this one, and wanted to keep it after all.

    I don’t really know if I was more disappointed— or relieved!

    Anyway, a couple of weeks went by, and I had just kind-of forgotten about it.

    And just when I thought the whole 12-string experiment was going to fade away- on Christmas morning, my wife brought out Dave’s 12 string and said “Merry Christmas”.

    I couldn’t believe it.

    So, I have since been cleaning, wiping, inspecting, re-tuning it “down” a whole step, and I took out the clip-in Lawrence soundhole pickup and sound-cord jack where the strap button was.

    It’s kind-of been- (a mix of)- admiring it and being scared of it– working on simple, clear, notes and chords. Plenty for now. Its sound is full, bright, and clear. Reminds me of being “harpsicordy”(?).

    So, is there any easy advice here in the first stages of learning his beauty. My plan is to start s-l-o-w, continue with easy exercises and chords, and get it right, right off the bat. Any extra advice, tips, and hints are greatly appreciated.

    Thanks for reading my seemingly endless babble……😉.

    Mark J

    • jumpinjeff

      Member
      December 28, 2021 at 3:21 am

      I think you have it @mkjohnsons congratulations on your acquisition! Relax enjoy explore.

    • David_Leo

      Member
      December 28, 2021 at 5:18 am

      First assignment: Learn to play your wife’s favorite song on the 12 string. 🙂

    • Carol-3M-Stillhand

      Member
      December 28, 2021 at 1:31 pm

      @Mark my first advice for you is to hang on to your very intelligent and loving wife. What a wonderful Christmas story, thank you for sharing that beautiful update!!

      My second advice for you is to agree with whoever said to learn your wife’s favorite song on the 12 string and play it for her. (There’s always next Christmas to think about, hahaha)

      The rest of my advice, is to be patient with yourself and just keep practicing. A 12 string is played exactly like a 6 string, so you just have to build bigger callouses on your fretting fingers (Have you seen the double grooves in your fingertips yet?) and you need much greater left hand and finger strength which have to be built up over time. Most 12 string players keep the entire guitar tuned down either a half step (capo on 1st fret to be in standard tune) or tune down a whole step (capo on 2nd fret to be in standard tune). This decreases the tension on all the strings, making it easier for the left hand to fret the notes, (barre chords are a whole new ballgame on a 12-er), and it also decreases the action which also makes it easier to fret the notes. Bonus benefit, the frets aren’t as far apart with the capo which also makes it easier to reach the chord shapes.

      One huge head’s up is that it’s really really hard to play fingerstyle on a 12 string. It’s very difficult for the right hand to pluck both strings in each pair. Which is fine, but you get robbed of the harplike sound of the 12 string and might as well be playing a 6 string, So most 12 string players are flat pickers and pick strummers. That really showcases the beautiful chimey signature sound of a 12 string… I truly appreciate any musician who is skilled at playing a 12 string fingerstyle, because I have experienced how super difficult that is!! This is the reason I was motivated to learn to play with a pick, haha!!!!

      Hope some of this was helpful, and glad you had a very merry christmas!! Happy NGD as well 🙂

      Carol

      • Cadgirl

        Member
        December 30, 2021 at 4:11 am

        I am also looking at 12 strings. I’m most interested in finger style and I was wondering how that would be with a 12. I haven’t purchased one yet, still investigating but i think i am going to start looking at stores that have a few 12s in stock to play before that big purchase. Thanks for you input.

      • David_Leo

        Member
        December 30, 2021 at 4:42 am

        With my fat fingers it was critical for me to use thumb and fingerpicks when I started learning 12 string finger style, but it’s worth the effort. Some amazing sounds. Regarding what to purchase, if you can handle a Jumbo, Guild has a couple amazing examples in their Westerly Collection. Eastman also has a beautiful, all solid wood model which is (relatively) affordable.

      • Cadgirl

        Member
        December 30, 2021 at 3:38 pm

        WOW, thanks. I was just on the Guild site and what a nice collection of 12 strings. The Eastman like you said, affordable and solid wood. I am only planning on Solid wood at this point. I’m not in a hurry so I can shop around for a 12.

      • N-lightMike

        Member
        December 30, 2021 at 4:21 pm

        I went through this process a while back, @Cadgirl .

        I found 2 things that decided my choice. The first is that 12 string guitars are almost exclusively dreadnoughts or jumbos. I already did that experiment and decided I would never again own a dreadnought or jumbo. The only 12 string I found that is smaller is the Breedlove Solo Concert 12 string. I believe the Concert is equivalent to an Auditorium body size.

        The second factor is the playability. Breedlove uses a bridge truss rod, which they invented, that makes this 12 easier to play than most. And the headstock design, which a few others have something similar, also helps with playability. Here is the Breedlove webpage where you can get all the scoops on this guitar;

        https://breedlovemusic.com/acoustic-guitars/2018-solo-concert-12-string-acoustic-guitar

        These have become difficult to find as they are made overseas, but here is a link to a store that still has one at the same price I paid;

        https://www.riskomusic.com/products/amps/acoustic/solo-concert-12-string-ce-red-cedar-ovangkol

        I only provided this information for you to consider. It won’t bother me regardless what decision you make. I would be interested in what you choose when you reach that point.

        MG 😀

      • tailsawaggin

        Member
        December 30, 2021 at 9:33 pm

        @Cadgirl my 12 is a Guild D-125-12 from 2014 or 2015. It’s a great sounding instrument with a really nice, mellow voice, and it’s surprisingly easy to play. The neck is wide, but it’s relatively thin like all the Guilds I’ve played, and the string feel is very soft. If you can wrangle a dread, I heartily endorse this one.

      • N-lightMike

        Member
        December 30, 2021 at 4:02 pm

        Great advice and insight @Carol-3M-Stillhand . Thanks for sharing this.

        MG 😀

    • N-lightMike

      Member
      December 30, 2021 at 5:28 pm

      This is a wonderful story, Mark ( @mkjohnsons ). I am really happy that you have this guitar, and I am especially happy how you finally got it. Yah! That’s so much fun. 😍

      I own a 12 string, but I can’t add much to what @Carol-3M-Stillhand already said. Excellent advice. But, I can add one thing. Many 12 string players use light or extra light strings. In fact, I found some “ghs”, 12 string, light, silk and steel, strings on JustStrings.com. They are actually super light. Starting from the low E string, the gauge is 22,42; 15,34; 11,26; 09,20; 13,13; 10,10. As you look around for stings you will find these are quite a bit lighter than anything else, including sets labeled extra lights.

      As far as playing, I don’t know that I could add much to what Carol said. I have found that the 12 string forces me to be more precise with my finger placement on the strings. I have found that I can play it fingerstyle, but it demands more precision, again. But the chimey sound is enhanced by using a pick. So I am going to start using my thumb and finger picks as suggested by @David_Leo .

      MG 😀

    • tailsawaggin

      Member
      December 30, 2021 at 9:38 pm

      @mkjohnsons I shared this with my wife, and she and I agree that A) you were set up in the most wonderful way, and B) she’s a keeper. The advice to learn her favorite song is solid, and I’ll add this — do it in secret and surprise her with it. Turnabout is, after all, fair play. 😁

  • the-old-coach

    Member
    December 30, 2021 at 6:45 pm

    Throwin’ this long-winded post out there onto the “if anybody cares” pile.

    This my 12-string, “4-days-in” update- (😒wow….. big deal….). So let’s keep that in perspective. These are just my opinions, based mostly on my own abilities or lack of, at this stage in my guitar journey. The ONLY reason I’m puttin’ this out there is because I had absolutely NO idea of what to expect when or if I wanted to consider a 12-string, and maybe my babble can help someone else considering one. Please also remember I’m really closer to “beginner” than to “intermediate” in overall ability, so that’s where these viewpoints come from. Much more experienced players, I certainly expect, would have much different thought processes.

    Anyway, here goes….

    Same as a 6-string? Not even. Different? YES. Waaaaaay different? Not that much. Harder? Right now-for me? Yes. “Worth it”? Yes. (because I EXPECTED it to be much more involved- much more “concentration” needed). And also– because of “that sound”.

    The 12-string I have is a tank compared to my 6-string Fender dreadnaught-style, where the neck feels soooo much smaller and easier to work around. The 12 is not-so-much. By comparison, the neck is a “herc-meister”.

    I’ve got a strategy going of practicing/playing the 12 for the FIRST half of the total session, then going to the 6. The 12-string requires SOOOO much more precision, accuracy, and concentration to ring clear- (far from even “OK” at it– for now).

    Having a 12-er WILL make me a better 6-string player, sooner. Much sooner– because of the heightened concentration.

    Anyway, upon changing over to the 6, it just does not even feel like the same guitar I’ve been playing almost every day for a year now. My fingers move around that thing like they’re two inches longer, and I’ve just gained 6 months of experience.

    Been takin’ it slow with the 12. Lots of individual-note kind of exercises, and A thru G chords in majors, minors, 7th’s, and 5th’s. S-L-O-W and deliberate.

    Even tried to monkey with a couple of TAB-songs by the Byrds and Beatles🙃.

    Anyway– fun so far– and of course, that sound!

    Mark J

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 3 months ago by  the-old-coach.
  • albert_d

    Member
    December 31, 2021 at 8:38 am

    Great story and wonderful conclusion. Hang onto that sweet gal.

    • the-old-coach

      Member
      December 31, 2021 at 8:49 am

      👍🙏

      • Carol-3M-Stillhand

        Member
        December 31, 2021 at 9:59 am

        @Mark I agree whole heartedly, that as you become better at coaxing the tone from your new 12 string, you will find when you switch back to your 6 string, it will feel exceedingly easy for a few moments until you acclimate but also in the long run as you are working on your fretting hand strength and precision big time as you learn 12 string.

        One thing I forgot to mention in my earlier post, is that Taylor Guitars has always enjoyed a reputation for extremely playable 12 string guitars. I believe they now have a few in smaller body styles, ie Grand Concert (Model ends in 2)

        I’ve played a few in the store, and I agree, they play like butter. So far none of them have followed me home, (not counting the Taylor custom 9-string)

  • Cadgirl

    Member
    January 1, 2022 at 3:06 pm

    I pulled out my Martin D28. I figured it’s a big guitar and about the size the 12s come in. It’s a beast, I forgot how it was to play. Sounds great, but really tough on the fingers. Then I started thinking about …. What if there were 12 strings on this beast, EGAD!! So I am going to be shopping at some stores that carry 12s. Thanks Carol-3M-Stillhand, I have been watching a lot of videos on the Taylor 562 which is a Grand Concert size, but can’t find one to actually try out. I’m a finger-picker and that concerns me a little with buying a 12. Just happens a store about an hour from me has 8 in stock, some new, some used, some big, some small (well, smaller). So that will give me an idea if I should take the plunge or not. @Mark, I’m still laughing at your 12-string update. Thanks everyone for all the posts.

    • the-old-coach

      Member
      January 2, 2022 at 10:50 am

      I’m hoping you’re laughing in a good way🙂!

      • Cadgirl

        Member
        January 2, 2022 at 2:22 pm

        oh course in a good way. we all go through it. It will get better with time. I noticed that since playing my Martin my fingers are getting stronger when I play my Taylor GS mini.

      • the-old-coach

        Member
        January 2, 2022 at 4:27 pm

        Spent about 30 mins on it today, on various single-note exercises and easi-er chords. All flatpickin’ and strummin’. Felt like I couldn’t the side of a barn, even if I was inside.

        Some days much better than others with it, it seems like, for me anyway.

        Guess that’s just part of it.

        Thanks-

        Mark J

        • This reply was modified 2 years, 3 months ago by  the-old-coach.

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